COVID-19 Information for Individuals

The fastest and most efficient way to file a new claim is to file online at des.nc.gov. If you don't have access to a computer or need assistance, you may file over the phone by calling the Customer Call Center at 888-737-0259 or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance line at 866-847-7209. However, due to the high volume of calls related to COVID-19, you may experience a long wait time.  

Check the information and FAQs below to see if we can answer your question here.

Before you file a claim…

  • The fastest and most efficient way to apply for unemployment benefits is to create an online account and file online at des.nc.gov.  
  • If you’re temporarily out of work or your working hours have been reduced due to COVID-19, choose ‘coronavirus’ as your reason for separation when filing your claim.
  • Remember, you must complete a Weekly Certification for every week you are filing for benefits to receive payments. If you earned any wages during the week, you must report them on your Weekly Certification.
  • Your eligibility and amount of benefits cannot be determined until after you file your claim.
  • If there are no issues, people typically receive their first payment within about 14 days of filing their inital claim.

Unemployment Benefit Programs

 

More Information

Tips for Applying for Unemployment Due to COVID-19

More Information about Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

Tips for Applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

More Information about Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation

More Information about Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation

Tips for Applying for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation

Returning to Work

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I apply for unemployment benefits because of COVID-19?

Can I apply for unemployment benefits because of COVID-19?

Do I have to search for work while filing for unemployment?

Do I have to search for work while filing for unemployment?

You do not have to conduct a work search while filing for unemployment while North Carolina is under a State of Emergency for COVID-19.

Do I need to complete a Weekly Certification every week to receive benefits?

Do I need to complete a Weekly Certification every week to receive benefits?

Yes. A Weekly Certification is a series of yes/no questions that helps determine your eligibility for benefits each week. If you do not complete a Weekly Certification, you will not be considered for payment for that week. Sign into your Online Account to complete your Weekly Certification. If you do not have online access, call 888-372-3453 (Weekly Certifications only). 

Note: N.C. Executive Order 118 waives the work search requirement for people filing for unemployment during the State of Emergency. You may answer ‘yes’ to the question ‘Did you look for work?’ on the Weekly Certification. However, answering ‘no’ to this question will not delay your weekly benefits.

What if I’m having trouble accessing the DES online benefits system or getting through on the phone?

What if I’m having trouble accessing the DES online benefits system or getting through on the phone?

The Division of Employment Security is taking immediate actions to respond to the huge surge of unemployment claims that have been filed as a result of COVID-19. The division is quickly adding staff, equipment and IT infrastructure to help individuals and employers file and respond to unemployment claims. DES knows how important it is to continue processing claims and issuing payments as quickly and efficiently as possible.

We are aware of issues people are having accessing their online accounts and long wait times to speak to someone at the Customer Call Center. DES will ensure claimants do not miss out on any weeks of eligibility due to high call volume. We will begin the claim with the week when they initially attempted to file. If you are experiencing issues with the password or PIN for your account, please email NCDESpasswordhelp@nccommerce.com for assistance.

People are encouraged to regularly check des.nc.gov for the most up-to-date information and FAQs.

When will I receive payment?

When will I receive payment?

After you file your claim for unemployment insurance, your last employer is given, by law, 10 days to respond to DES about your claim. No payment will be released until after this 10-day period. Your claim may be identified as ‘pending’ during this period.

If there are no issues with your claim, it will take approximately 14 days from the time you file your claim to receive your first payment.

What does it mean if my claim is ‘pending’?

What does it mean if my claim is ‘pending’?

After you file your claim for unemployment insurance, your last employer is given, by law, 10 days to respond to DES about your claim. No payment will be released until after this 10-day period. Your claim may be ‘pending’ during this period.

If your employer does not respond within 10 days, and you have identified ‘coronavirus’ as the reason for separation from employment, the system will automatically adjudicate the issue. If all requirements are met, benefits will be paid. The employer will be notified of this determination of benefits by mail. If the employer feels the claim is not valid, they may appeal the determination.    

Are part-time employees eligible?

Are part-time employees eligible?

Part time employees may qualify for unemployment benefits if they have earned enough money in their base period to received benefits.

Your base period is the time frame used to determine whether you are monetarily eligible to receive unemployment payments. It normally includes the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters.

The individual must have been 1) paid wages in at least two quarters of the base period, and 2) have been paid wages totaling at least six times the average weekly insured wage in the base period. 

Currently, six times the average weekly insured wage in the base period equates to $5,818.50.

Am I eligible for unemployment assistance if I’m working reduced hours?

Am I eligible for unemployment assistance if I’m working reduced hours?

If you’re working reduced hours, you may still be eligible for unemployment benefits. However, the amount you earn could affect your weekly benefit amount.

You must report the money you earn when filing your Weekly Certification for unemployment. You can earn up to 20% of your weekly benefit amount without it counting against your weekly benefit. Earnings over that amount are deducted from your weekly benefits.

For example: If your weekly benefit amount is $350, you can earn up to $70 a week (20% of $350) and receive the full $350 in benefits. Every dollar you earn over $70 will be deducted from the $350. If you earn $75 a week, your weekly benefit will be $345; if you earn $420 a week, your weekly benefit will be reduced to $0.

What if I have exhausted my state unemployment insurance benefits?

What if I have exhausted my state unemployment insurance benefits?

If you have exhausted 12 weeks of state unemployment insurance benefits, you may apply for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), a federal extension to state unemployment insurance benefits for up to 13 weeks.

You will see a link to ‘Apply for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation’ in your online account at des.nc.gov after you exhaust your state unemployment insurance benefits.

Learn more about PEUC.

Currently, Extended Benefits are available in North Carolina for people who have exhausted both state unemployment insurance benefits and PEUC benefits. Extended Benefits (EB) is the regular federal program that extends benefits during periods of high unemployment in a state.

In North Carolina, EB currently provides claimants an extension of up to 9.6 weeks of benefits (nine weeks of a full benefit amount and one week with a partial benefit amount). If you may be eligible for EB, you will see a link to ‘Apply for Extended Benefits’ in your online account at des.nc.gov after you exhaust PEUC.

How do I find out my weekly benefit amount? How do I protest the determination of my weekly benefit amount?

How do I find out my weekly benefit amount? How do I protest the determination of my weekly benefit amount?

After you file a claim, you will be mailed a Wage Transcript and Monetary Determination form (NCUI 550).

This will show your quarterly wages paid by each base period employer and your monetary eligibility, including your weekly benefit amount, duration of benefits and effective date of your claim. If you have been found ineligible for a weekly benefit, the reason will be shown on the form.

Monetary eligibility simply means that you have worked and earned enough wages within your base period to meet the requirements for establishing a claim. In order to receive benefit payments, you must meet additional requirements, such as completing your Weekly Certifications.

If you believe wages are missing or listed inaccurately on the form, you may file a protest within 10 days from the mailing of the Wage Transcript and Monetary Determination form.

You may file your protest by sending it to the address or fax below. In your protest, include a copy of the form with an explanation of your protest and proof of wages you believe were incorrectly reported.

Mail:

P.O. 27967, Raleigh, NC 27611-7967
Fax Number: 919.857.1296
What is a base period?

What is a base period?

Your base period is the time frame used to determine whether you are monetarily eligible to receive unemployment payments. Monetary eligibility simply means that you have worked and earned enough wages within your base period to meet the requirements for establishing a claim.

It normally includes the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters. (If you lack enough base period wages, DES may use an alternative base period to determine whether you are eligible for UI benefits. The alternative base period consists of the last four completed calendar quarters immediately before the first day of your benefit year.)

STANDARD BASE PERIOD

2018

2019

2019

2019

2019

2020

2020

2020

2020

OCT

NOV

DEC

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEP

JAN

FEB

MAR

CLAIM FILED

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

NOV

DEC

APR

MAY

JUN

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

NOV

DEC

JAN

FEB

MAR

JUL

AUG

SEP

BASE PERIOD

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

NOV

DEC

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

OCT

NOV

DEC

What effect do vacation and severance weeks have on eligibility for benefits?

What effect do vacation and severance weeks have on eligibility for benefits?

Any worker who receives severance pay is considered to be attached to that employer's payroll during that time and not eligible for UI benefits.

Paid Time Off (Vacation and/or Sick Pay) will not be considered separation pay if the payment was issued as a result of the employer's written policy established prior to your separation. Workers receiving Paid Time Off (Vacation and/or Sick Pay) under these conditions will not be disqualified from receiving benefits.

I have been getting unemployment benefits, but I am returning to work. What should I do?

I have been getting unemployment benefits, but I am returning to work. What should I do?

If you return to work, stop filing your Weekly Certifications to discontinue your benefits. You do not need to report to DES that you’ve gone back to work.

If you continue to receive benefits for weeks after you return to work, you may be required to pay back the benefits you were overpaid.

What should I do if I’m returning to work, but I’ll be working reduced hours?

What should I do if I’m returning to work, but I’ll be working reduced hours?

Continue to file your Weekly Certifications and report any wages you earn. Remember, you must report wages for the week in which you earned them, not the week in which you are paid.

Any wages you earn may affect your weekly benefit amount.

My employer has called me back to work. What happens if I choose not to return?

My employer has called me back to work. What happens if I choose not to return?

Generally, an employee is disqualified from receiving further benefits if the employee chooses not to return to work after receiving notice to do so from their employer. If your employer has called you back and you did not return to work, you should report that you have refused an offer to work when filing your Weekly Certification. You will have an opportunity to provide more information about your reason for not returning to work.

DES will determine eligibility for unemployment benefits on a case-by-case basis.

You may continue to be eligible for benefits if you do not return to work for good cause. Examples of good cause related to COVID-19 can be found on the Returning to Work page.

I feel unsafe returning to work because I am 65 or older and/or have a medical condition that makes me at higher risk for severe illness if I contract COVID-19. Can I refuse to return to work?

I feel unsafe returning to work because I am 65 or older and/or have a medical condition that makes me at higher risk for severe illness if I contract COVID-19. Can I refuse to return to work?

If you are 65 or older and/or you have a medical condition that puts you at a high risk for severe illness if you are infected with COVID-19, and your employer is not able to offer you a safe workplace or your job does not allow for a reasonable accommodation such as teleworking, you may have good cause for not returning to work and be eligible to receive benefits.

A note from a Doctor of Medicine or Osteopathy who is authorized to practice medicine by the state will be considered as proof of a high-risk medical condition.

I am not 65 or older or a high-risk individual for severe illness if I contract COVID-19. However, I have reasonable concerns that my work environment is unsafe. Can I choose not to return to work and remain eligible for benefits?

I am not 65 or older or a high-risk individual for severe illness if I contract COVID-19. However, I have reasonable concerns that my work environment is unsafe. Can I choose not to return to work and remain eligible for benefits?

You should talk to your employer. If your employer has taken steps to create a safer workplace by following safety standards as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or other governmental authorities or industry groups, you may be found ineligible for benefits if you choose not to return to work. If your employer is not following recommended safety standards, then your refusal to return to work may make you eligible for benefits.

I can make more money collecting unemployment benefits than I can returning to work. Can I refuse an offer to return to work because I will earn less and remain eligible for benefits?

I can make more money collecting unemployment benefits than I can returning to work. Can I refuse an offer to return to work because I will earn less and remain eligible for benefits?

No. Choosing not to return to work solely on the basis that you will earn less than you can collect in unemployment benefits is not considered good cause when your employer has offered you your former employment back or other suitable employment. If you refuse to return to work solely on this basis you will not be eligible to receive benefits.